Software to Split Long Videos into Shorter Clips & Export Automatically
February 1, 2017 4:56 PM   Subscribe

Is there any software (whether for PC, Mac, iOS or otherwise) that allows the user to import a long video, split it up into user-defined sections, name those segments, and auto-export them in bulk as individual clip files with their given name?

I'd prefer if the software could do it in bulk, rather than me having to export manually one clip at a time. I want to import the video (e.g. video of a course, lesson, screencast, meetup, etc.) and split it into smaller clips, each clip of differing/variable length depending on content and named by its specific topic, then export those as individual video files. My goal here is to be able to quickly access just a section/clip any time from the file explorer/finder without having to know where to fast forward to in the longer, single/original video.

To clarify, I'm not happy with how long it takes to do this "manually" using standard video editors like Movie Maker or iMovie. They don't allow this sort of thing in the highly-automated, efficient/low-effort sort of fashion I'm looking for, as far as I can tell.

I'm envisioning a tool that shows me the full timeline of the imported video, then let's me simply mark splits in the timeline where one clip-to-be-exported ends, and another begins. I do NOT want to export into fixed-length segments like other software tools can do.

Doesn't need to be free software if it's a quality tool that's simple to use, but free software recommendations are indeed welcome. The easier to use, the better. Newer software that's still being maintained is also a plus.
posted by purefusion to Technology (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Input files will mostly be MOV files, but if there's a quality tool that doesn't support MOV files, feel free to still recommend it. I would happily convert the file first, if the tool provides a good experience. Just be sure to mention the supported import file types. :)
posted by purefusion at 5:01 PM on February 1, 2017

Don't know specifically about the automation part of it, but I've used both VirtualDub and Avidemux for splitting video before. I think both of them can use scripting and/or have plugins available that may help you.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 5:31 PM on February 1, 2017

In Windows, Virtual Dub sounds like it might be exactly what you're looking for, though if I recall it only works with .avi files out of the box (though there at least used to be a plugin you could add for .mov and .mp4 files).

On a Mac (or in Windows), MPEG Streamclip almost does what you want, but while it can batch process from multiple sources, I don't think it lets you set up a batch list of various in- and out-points from a single video file -- but it might be worth double-checking this, since it sure seems like something it ought to do.
posted by nobody at 5:31 PM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Might want to check out Handbrake. I believe it is possible to create templates that define some of the parameters like resolution etc. And *i think* there is a way to invoke it in a script, but i haven't done that myself.
posted by WacoKid at 6:21 PM on February 1, 2017

While it's not automated per se, if you have Final Cut Pro X, you can export a big queue of clips in the background while you do other stuff.
Since you have to split your main video into clips anyway, just hit Command-E to export the first one (a window will pop up asking you to name it, where you want to save it, video settings will remember your settings so you can just name it and hit enter for the rest of the clips). While your clip is exporting, you mark your next clip and hit Command-E again to export and name. You can change and even delete stuff in your project while your clip is exporting. Most of your time is spent selecting the clip length and naming, and the exporting is happening in the background while you're doing that.
There's also an app/plugin for Final Cut Pro called Clip Exporter (I think there's a free demo on the site) that will export a bunch of clips in a timeline into folders, but you'd still have to separate your clips and you probably have to manually name them if you want them named something specific.
posted by chococat at 7:27 PM on February 1, 2017

So I'm getting the sense that there's no such tool out there yet that can do this very simply?
posted by purefusion at 11:35 AM on February 2, 2017

in adobe premiere, you could put your source material on the timeline and name that sequence something descriptive--this will end up being the file name for the smaller clips that you export. So if it were a lecture about bugs, given on feb 2, i'd call it 170202BugsLecture.

use the i and o keys to set in and out points
command m to export
set your export destination to a folder that makes sense
select "queue" to send it to adobe media encoder, which lets you export multiple files.

The first file will be exported as 170202BugsLecture. The next one will be 170202BugsLecture_1, and on and on. (it's also easy to jump in and change the name at this point, so that upon output, your file will be named BugsLecture_ants, or whatever.)

The only effort you really have to put into it is in thinking up the name of the timeline/your export settings. Otherwise, if you use the keyboard shortcuts, this is really fast/easy, you don't even have to touch your mouse.

other option is to separate this into two processes. one is selecting the clips you want, which you have to do manually. but once you export those, you could try a program to batch rename them, such as adobe bridge, or lightroom, or, i'm sure, there are tons of non-adobe programs that will do this.

adobe ain't cheap but i think you can get a free trial, if this is a one-off thing.
posted by iahtl at 9:11 AM on February 3, 2017

Thanks iahti. That seems like the best option. Not fully automated, but may work well enough to get the job done at some added effort. I don't have the full Adobe suite subscription, although I do have a paid version of CS4, which might work out for this. Or, as you said, I can use the free trial since I have the installer installed (LOL) and this kind of is a one-time thing. I can just collect all my videos first, then install the trial and process them all in one go.
posted by purefusion at 5:27 PM on March 15, 2017

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